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Color-Coded Eyes
aka: Colour Coded Eyes

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"In her eyes I see the sky and all I'll ever need
In her eyes time passes by and she is with me."
Josh Groban, "In Her Eyes"

Since eyes are the Window to the Soul, many times the look of the eyes themselves will tell you everything you need to know about a character. This trope is when color symbolism in the eyes is used for characterization.

For instance, someone who is very peaceful or innocent might have blue eyes, or someone who is sinister or supernatural might have yellow eyes. While there are general patterns as to what colors mean, these aren't absolutes. It's up to the authors what certain eye colors mean in context. Recurring patterns include but are not limited to:

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  • Brown Eyes: As the most common Real Life eye colors, these are often given to Muggles or down to earth, grounded characters. Since the majority of people have these eyes, take more note of those with other eye colors to know if color symbolism is at play.
  • Red Eyes: When it's not Red Eyes, Take Warning, it may just point out otherness, or some sort of deficiency, as albinos may have naturally red eyes.
  • Green Eyes: Characters with this may be wilder, display more uncontrollable tendencies and enjoy being outdoors. Since green is rare eye color, it's often seen as exotic and sexy. Often complimentary to natural Red hair and carries some similar connotations. However, if your eyes turn green, it's often a sign of enhanced power or literal Green-Eyed Monster jealousy. In other cases, it may just signify magic.
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  • Eye Color functioning like People of Hair Color, just acting as a mark of a certain ethnicity or family line.

A Super-Trope to:

  • Black Eyes of Crazy
  • Black Eyes of Evil
  • Elemental Eye Colors (when eyes specifically denote certain Elemental Powers)
  • Gray Eyes: Often used to portray purity of spirit. Whitish eyes are used to show people who are beyond the normal ken of human understanding. They may have sight beyond sight or be blind with no vision at all. Gray eyes can also characterize a cold, strong-willed and unapproachable character often with an "ideas above people" mentality.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Sharp icy blue eyes may show someone who is emotionally distant or lifeless. Sometimes even given to robots.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Bright light blue eyes usually signify purity or innocence. Often complimentary to natural blonde hair, and carries many similar connotations.
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  • Purple Eyes: Often a telltale sign of a Mary Sue in fanfiction, Violet or Purple eyes are far out of the range of 'normal' eye colors and typically only appear in fantasy shows or fantastic characters. Here it's important to note that the character must be special in ways that many other characters aren't. If everyone is special and has fantastic eye colors, you may just be in a Technicolor Eyes design style. Orange, pink, and other bright saturated colors are similar.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Red, the color of fire and blood, is usually a sign of danger.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes
  • Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness: As an eye color more often associated with reptiles, on human characters they may denote some type of sinister intent or sickness. Sometimes seen when characters are Drunk on the Dark Side.

If you're seeing a bunch of eye colors that don't fall into the above, then it may just be a design choice. Some artists slap around eye color like hair colors, with no storytelling purpose at all. In that case, don't list it here.


Examples (not covered in the sub tropes):

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ouran High School Host Club:
    • Honey-senpai has light brown eyes, which not only helps him look even more innocent and childlike but gives him heartbreakingly adorable puppy-dog eyes when he chooses to wield them. However, don't make him mad, because those typically adorable eyes can also be TERRIFYING.
    • Tamaki, the Host King, has purple eyes. It's also very fitting for his princely personality.
  • All Claymores have silvery-gray eyes. In fact, their eye color is what most commonly gives them away when they go undercover. Needless to say, they are mostly very stoic (except for Psychopathic Woman Children).
  • Fakir from Princess Tutu has green eyes to match his hair. He definitely fits the "exotic and sexy" implication of the trope... and he inherited Drosselmeyer's Rewriting Reality powers, so he fits the magical implications as well.
  • Edward, Alphonse (when he's human), and Hohenheim of Fullmetal Alchemist all have gold eyes. This is an ethnic trait of the Xerxesian race, of which Hohenheim is the last full-blooded member; his sons, though only half-Xerxesian, inherited their coloring from him.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-:
    • Kurogane is a complete subversion of this trope as his eyes are red but he is neither evil nor associated with fire. He's actually the only one completely there of the main cast and the only human member of the initial party who's not a spy and his element is ice.
    • Fai from has blue eyes that are on the lighter side, which go with his gentle and sensitive nature, and further contrast with partmember Kurogane. He ultimately losses the blue color because they were the source of his magic, which was stolen. Then they turn into Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness from turning into a vampire. This reflects all the secrets he was keeping from the group, and how he was a spy the whole time for the Big Bad.
  • Different characters in Yu-Gi-Oh! have different eye colors (and different hair colors, too, even though most of them are Japanese), but what's notable is the differences in the shine of the eyes. Characters who are female (Anzu, Mai, Ishizu, Isis, Kisara) or childlike (Mokuba, Bakura, except Yugi himself) have more shine (one area at the top and one area at the bottom of the iris), while evil ones have no shine at all. Marik only has the shiny area at the bottom, while most other male characters have the large shiny area at the top that covers most of the pupil. Also, during the Duelist Kingdom and D.D.D. arcs, male characters that are characterized as strong shounen don't have shine, or except Ryuuji Otogi's case, not even pupils. Other minor characters have very small irises and usually no shine.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics:
    • Doctor Strange officially has gray eyes, to show the depth of his understanding of the Mystic Arts, and many other subjects from his great age. They're often depicted as blue or even green, but both of them reflect his status as Sorcerer Supreme.
    • Among the many green-eyed redheads from the Marvel universe, Mary Jane Watson from Spider-Man is given these to make her not only more attractive but giving her a safely exotic yet still familiar girl-next-door flair.
    • The Hulk is often shown with green eyes, which are more of reflection of the gamma radiation that turned his hair and skin green too. In the past, they've been red for the associations of danger. Bruce Banner, on the other hand, is more often shown with brown (muggle mode indicator) or blue eyes (more gentle than his alter ego), with the change to green being the signal that running might be a good idea.
  • Oliver Queen, a.k.a. Green Arrow, a modern-day Robin Hood, has green eyes, which he has passed on, somewhat improbably, to both of his sons, including the adopted one. The sexy-connotations certainly apply as well, just ask Black Canary or one of his other love interests.
  • Several different but related heroes have held the mantle of The Flash, and with the exception of the first one, Jay Garrick, they all wear basically the same costume. However, if you look closely at their eyes, you can tell which Flash you're dealing with.
    • Barry Allen, the most well-known Flash, has Innocent Blue Eyes, fitting with his role as The Heart of the Justice League. (Coincidentally, he was also deputized as a Blue Lantern during Blackest Night, wielding the Blue Light of Hope).
    • Wally West, Barry's nephew, original sidekick, and successor, has Green Eyes, which coupled with his hair make him a Significant Green-Eyed Redhead. He's got a wilder, feistier temperament than his uncle, too.
    • Bart Allen, Barry's grandson, has very striking Supernatural Gold Eyes. He was born in the 30th Century, time-traveled back to the present, and aged unnaturally rapidly due to having an inherited connection to the Speed Force since birth, as opposed to getting it in adulthood (like Barry) or mid-childhood (like Wally).
  • Batman:
    • Catwoman has always had green eyes canonically, though she has been played by non-green-eyed actresses; she fits the concept, being mysterious as she is, and associated with cats, who sometimes have vivid green eyes.
    • Poison Ivy usually boasts the typical green-eyed redhead combo, showing not only her exotic, mysterious beauty, but also her association with plants.
    • With respect to different artists, The Joker is often portrayed with green eyes (the shade varies) when a close-up of them is shown. This is going more with the "untrustworthy" and "spitfire" aspects of his personality, since he doesn't technically have any superpowers besides insanity (or sometimes, "super-sanity"). It could also be to match his hair color or to tie him into his chemical bath-based origin...
  • In the comics, it's revealed that Demona from Gargoyles has green eyes, reflecting her mysterious and exotic nature. (It was hard to tell in the animated series).

    Film 
  • In Beauty and the Beast, when the Beast is restored to his original human form, Belle does not recognize him until she looks into his deep blue eyes, the exact same shade they were while he was the Beast, and then recognizes him immediately. Word of God confirms that his eyes are specifically designed to tell viewers that there really is a fundamentally good man trapped inside his monstrous form.
  • Doctor Calico, the villain of the Show Within a Show from Bolt has green, catlike eyes, and is often referred to as "The Green-Eyed Man".
  • Scar from The Lion King, who was jealous of his brother's power, particularly after Simba was born, which ensured that he would never take the throne by reasonable means, had vivid green eyes to show his jealousy.
  • Esmeralda from the Disney adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame possesses the positive, exotic qualities associated with green eyes, which correspond her name. Even though she's the heroine, she was actually also modeled after several female villains from earlier Disney films, who all have green eyes, so that she will actually be portrayed as being evil by Frollo, the Big Bad, while, to the viewers, she's actually on the side of good. This is actually done to show the fact that she is hated by the villain because he thinks that she is evil even though she really isn't.
  • According to The Jungle Book 2, Shanti (the girl who led Mowgli back to the Man-village with her singing) has "big, brown eyes." This is possibly to show that she is the one who returns Mowgli to his roots, grounding him in the fact that he is human, and nothing can change that. Granted, none of the human characters in either movie appeared to have any color other than brown, so it was possibly just because of their race.
  • Mother Gothel from Tangled was cold, manipulative and filled with a steely determination to keep her youth and eternal life no matter what, and was given gray eyes to show this. Rapunzel, an earthy young woman who becomes a bit wild (at least for the time, and compared to what she was before) with her first taste of freedom, has green eyes and also runs around barefoot.
  • Megamind, an alien from another world who is decidedly different, has bright green eyes to show how unique and unusual he is, though it's hardly necessary. It also becomes a way of telling it's him when he's sometimes disguised.
  • Aisling from The Secret of Kells has green eyes and is one of The Fair Folk. She's also something of a Nature Spirit, being fiercely protective of the forest outside Kells.
  • The Mad Hatter, in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), has extremely bright green eyes, though they turn a disturbing reddish-gold when he's agitated. The Cheshire Cat also has unnervingly huge green eyes, both showing how wild the characters are.
  • Loki, from Thor was given artificially bright, almost glowing Green Eyes for the promotional posters, both to highlight his unpredictable mischievousness and to lampshade his envy of Thor. In the actual film his eyes are blue, which is probably a racial trait for frost giants, but it also fits how cold and ruthless he can be.
  • The eyes of a Sith from the Star Wars franchise turn yellow when closest to his original programming of sneaky creature that infiltrates large cities so he can "back-up sewage, reverse road signs, and steal everyone's left shoe."

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter:
    • The fact that Harry Potter and his red-haired mother Lily both have vivid green eyes is emphasized repeatedly, and with good reason.
    • Albus Severus Potter, Harry's middle son, is described as the only one of his children to have inherited their grandmother's green eyes, completing a triple-Generation Xerox.
    • Hermione Granger has brown eyes, showing that she is one of, if not the most down-to-earth character in the series, grounding the rest of her group and often being the mediator between Ron and Harry's scuffles. She also happens to be the most muggle-y of the group, having been born to muggles and raised in their world.
    • Luna Lovegood has protruding silver eyes, probably meant to be reminiscent of a full moon (hence lunacy).
    • Draco and Luscious Malfoy both have gray eyes of the cold, steely variety, which reflect how ruthless they are, and how committed to their idea of purebloods being better for magical knowledge than muggles.
  • Discworld
    • Tiffany Aching and Agnes Nitt are both sensible and brown-eyed. It is something of a subversion in that sensible, down-to-earth people often make for talented witches such as Agnes and Tiffany.
    • In one of the early books, Pratchett states that Lancrastrians, emigres often becoming very successful witches and wizards among other things, are very down to earth, saying that only those who are firmly grounded can build castles in the sky. One could say this reflects magical power until you realize that Granny Weatherwax has blue eyes. Though this could have something to do with the fact that she tends to ignore expectations.
  • The Lord of the Rings: since stoicism is the norm for heroes in the Tolkien's Legendarium, gray eyes (said to be a racial trait of, among others, the Noldor elves and the Númenóreans) take up a very large chunk of the good guy population. The fact that Tolkien's beloved wife Edith was gray-eyed is probably also pertinent.
  • The protagonist of the children's novel The Girl With The Silver Eyes is telekinetic, and she and other children who received strange powers because of a medical experiment performed on their mothers all have this eye color.
  • Sherlock Holmes possesses Gray ( or 'steely') eyes of the piercing variety. His brother Mycroft's are of a "peculiarly light, watery gray". It's part of how they are super-geniuses standing above the rest of humanity (with the only one smarter than Sherlock being his older brother).
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Gray eyes are a genetic trait of the Stark family line, reflecting their stoic nature and the hard life up in the North. Ned Stark and his illegitimate son Jon's eyes are frequently focused on. Jon and Arya are the only two kids out of the six Stark children to have inherited the Stark look — including the eyes — and Arya is the only one of Catelyn's children not to inherit the blue-eyed Tully look, as Robb, Sansa, Bran, and Rickon have.
    • Purple eyes were common in Valyria, and characters that have them (particularly the Targaryen dynasty) can usually trace their lineage back to Valyrian ancestry. They are associated with the dragon-affinity and occasional prophetic powers of the Targaryens.
  • From the Dark series.....
    • Gregori is a healer with an unapproachable personality and the ideas-above-people mentality. A great deal is made about his silvery eyes.
    • Incidentally, Xavier, the main villain of the series, shares the grey eye color with Gregori. It is implied that silver eyes are a consequence of experimenting with darker or forbidden forms of magic.
  • The elves in the Bordertown Shared Universe all have silver eyes, and nearly all of them are relatively cold and intellectual.
  • The Herons (Geoffrey, Christopher, and Cecily) have gray eyes and "tawny-yellow" hair in Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard. Geoffrey's are described as "level and rather forbidding", and he is described several times as resembling granite and steel in character. Christopher eventually reveals himself to possess a warmer, rather impulsive, nature, but he too is cold and remote when the protagonist Kate first meets him.
  • Deryni novels
    • The Haldane kings in the all have gray eyes. Prince Nigel (Heir Presumptive and frequent Regent), his sons, even cousin (and Queen by marriage) Araxie. In Conall's case, the cold and strong-willed aspects of his character could be signaled by this.
    • Alaric Morgan has gray eyes and blond hair. He serves as a mentor for Kelson, and he's actually innocent of the evil motives (and most of the deeds) ascribed to him. Danger and ruthlessness also factor into it, however, since he actively cultivates a dangerous reputation, and he has plenty of martial and magical skills to back it up. To top it all off, he's a devoted servant of the House of Haldane, so having the same color eyes serves to point up that association.
  • Senna Wales, of the Everworld series, has "the color of rainclouds" and a personality to match. Her mother, who briefly appears in the ninth book, also has gray eyes but doesn't really fit any of the personalities associated with it.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan has gray eyes, of the storm/sea variety, foreshadowing her soon to be infamous temper. In her later years, she becomes renowned for her strength and calm, not to mention her marriage to a man named for a sea (Aral Vorkosigan).
    "Look at her eyes. A man could drown in those sea-gray eyes." (Aral, in Barrayar)
  • Polgara of The Belgariad books tends to have gray eyes (that can change to blue with her mood). She certainly fits the first example of someone wise beyond their years (though she's 3000 years old), and when they're "steel gray", it usually means she's determined enough to fit the second type...not to mention royally pissed off.
  • In Peter S. Beagle's novel The Last Unicorn, Schmendrick the Magician is often mentioned as having green eyes, covering the magical aspect of his character.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: It is common for the half-breeds to have eye colors that reflect their divine heritage.
    • Percy has sea-green eyes because he is the son of the sea god Poseidon.
    • In a similar fashion, Annabeth has the same storm grey eyes as her mother, Athena.
  • In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, Wil's eyes are still copper even in wolf form. The precise color is not so significant as what it shows about Wil's ability to keep his human mind in wolf form.
  • N. K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy: Yeine's "faded" green eyes mark her in several ways. To her native Darre people, they're a reminder that she's half-descended from the hated Arameri dynasty; to the intensely green-eyed Arameri, the shade is a sign that she's not truly one of them. They're also the precise eye color of the dead goddess Enefa, whose soul Yeine carries.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Djaq, from the BBC's Robin Hood had large brown eyes, was a wise and stabilizing force in the outlaw camp, and had a wounded puppy-dog look that could tear your heart out. Notable mainly because almost everyone else in the cast had Blue Eyes.
  • Niles Crane on Frasier in contrast to his brother's Blue Eyes — while he is more rigid, neurotic, and fussy than Frasier, he is more down-to-earth and practical, (not to mention Woobieish), and often plays Straight Man to his brother's overblown, self-deluding shenanigans.
  • In Supernatural, the two Winchester brothers, who are humans and represent earth, have green eyes and brown eyes, while Castiel and many other angels have blue eyes. Demons can have black, red, or yellow eyes, depending on their roles.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Last Supper"he immortal Laura/Jade's eyes are shown to be a very striking jade-green to signify that there's something unnatural about her.

    Video Games 
  • In Halo, Commander Miranda Keyes from Halo 2 and 3 has gray eyes, and is portrayed as being extremely calm and controlled.
  • In a setting that is filled to the brim with blue, green and yellow eyes, the only two original characters that have brown eyes in the Kingdom Hearts series are Hayner and Pence, who are, fittingly, a pair of Ordinary High School Students.
  • Silver from Pokémon Gold and Silver has gray eyes as of the remakes. It gives his name some meaning, and alludes to his cold personality.
  • Most of the cast of the Professor Layton games have relatively small, dark eyes. Flora, however, has huge saucer-like deep brown eyes, which just serve to further remind the player that she's the resident personification of sweetness and innocence.
  • Cream the Rabbit from Sonic the Hedgehog has big brown eyes, most likely to show how innocent she is amongst her admittedly violent surroundings.
  • Final Fantasy X: In one of many, many associations with the water-element, Tidus has deep blue eyes. Yuna has a green eye and a blue one and suffers quite the identity crisis half-way through the game due to being half-Al-Bhed. The most mentally stable and down to earth party members — Auron and Lulu — have deep brown eyes.
  • In Dragon Age II, Hawke's younger twin siblings fall into this with their default appearances. Older twin Carver has Icy Blue Eyes, indicating his more aloof personality, while younger twin Bethany has Brown Eyes, indicating her warmer nature.

    Web Comics 
  • Drowtales:
    • Members of the Val'Beldrobbaen clan often have gray eyes. They have a goth-like attitude.
    • Tainted characters have red eyes because it shows that they've merged their aura with a nether being, willingly or unwillingly. The "danger" association is definitely merited.
  • The Regional Fairies who become humans in Gunnerkrigg Court have gray eyes as a sign of their origin. They're strong-willed, but hardly cold or unapproachable (and certainly not stoic), varying in their personalities between smiling tricksters and borderline-psychotic Tsunderes.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Marge's eyes are revealed to be hazel; a lot of episodes focused on her revolve around some sort of identity crisis stemming from feeling unfulfilled or unappreciated. She also borrows cues associated with both brown and green eyes; she's (usually) the most emotionally grounded in the family, but she has moments when she veers into exotic and wild behaviors (generally during one of the aforementioned identity crises).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Fluttershy has soft blue-green eyes, probably indicating her connection with nature and healing, as well as her innocence and gentleness.
    • Twilight and the Great and Powerful Trixie have purple eyes. Twilight is the embodiment of the Element of Magic itself and ultimately become an alicorn. Trixie's talents are also magical in nature, albeit magician magic rather than more practical stuff, but the color still shows her as having a more magical nature than other ponies. She picked up teleportation pretty quickly after all.
  • On Transformers, most Autobots have blue eyes and most Decepticons have red eyes.

Alternative Title(s): Colour Coded Eyes

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